Kasich says GOP needs more pragmatism, less extremism

John Kasich talks to reporters in the spin room after the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
FILE PHOTO - John Kasich talks to reporters in the spin room after the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) – Ohio Gov. John Kasich directly took on Donald Trump’s stance on deporting millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally, telling South Carolina voters Wednesday that more pragmatism is needed to win the general election in 2016.

“I’d like to win an election in the fall,” Kasich said to a room of a few hundred voters on Hilton Head Island. “With a program like that, I’m not convinced we can win Ohio.”

Kasich and Trump clashed on immigration during Tuesday night’s debate in Milwaukee, with Trump saying the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally are “going to have to go out and hopefully they get back. But we have no choice if we’re going to run our country properly.” Kasich painted the sheer numbers involved as hard to simply repatriate, pointing out that families would be separated.

Kasich on Wednesday said he felt the U.S.-Mexico border needed more security and that there would be “no excuses” after that point not to deport anyone who illegally crossed into the U.S. But he told the crowd that he also supported a “commonsense and rational approach” to dealing with a guest worker program, as well as how to handle anyone already in the country illegally.

“If they’re law-abiding, they can stay. What do you think?” Kasich asked to the crowd, which applauded his comments after a brief pause.

During a Veterans Day event attended by several veterans, Kasich also said ensuring jobs and health care for those who have served in the military would be a major goal if he were president.

“It’s got to be one of our highest priorities,” Kasich said. “We’re going to respect all the work that you did.”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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